Are there hidden power dynamics in your relationship?

Are there hidden power dynamics in your relationship?

I'm curious as to why all the relationship books don't talk about the power/control dynamics in a relationship. My sister is going through a divorce right now, and the root cause of it all is a failure to identify and accept the power dynamic in their relationship. I've seen several other relationships end for the same reason.

Even though society throws around the word “equal”, there is really no such thing as an equal relationship. In my group of girlfriends, there is an accepted leader. At work, at least in the professional world I'm in, there are the managers who have control handed to them by an org chart, and leaders that “officially” have no authority, yet the team would follow them off a cliff due to expertise, charisma, etc. Even in team sports, there are natural leaders (captains), even though there is no “I” in “team”.

It seems to me that there are three major conditions necessary for making any relationship work, especially a Taken In Hand one:

The first is being compatible. This doesn't mean that you both have to be Republican (although it helps!), but that your core values align. For example, an atheist and a born-again Christian will have a hard time making it work if those attributes define them. For me and my husband, our core values include our faith, our engineering mindset (we both apply similar techniques to problem-solving), and hockey.

The second aspect of a successful relationship is to recognize, accept, and incorporate the power dynamic. That's not to say that every relationship needs to be Taken In Hand, because it isn't for everyone. But in every relationship there is a natural ebb and flow in the dynamic that should be recognized and accepted. I promised to obey my husband, and he is the “leader” in our relationship. But not 100%. For example, we have realized that in new social situations that one way I can serve him is to take the lead. I'm comfortable feeling things out in new social settings; he is not.

But imagine how frustrating it would be for both of us if we didn't know this and accept it. We could walk into a new restaurant, and I could think “well, he's the head of the household, so he should take charge and get us settled in”. He could be thinking “she always makes this so easy; I'll just sit back and wait for her to take care of us”. We'd both end up frustrated because we didn't have a well-accepted dynamic to fall back on.

Imagine how this impacts couples that have no idea what their dynamic is! In our relationship, we state where the default is for me to lead based on our natural talents. If it isn't stated, then we both know the expectation is for him to do so. It definitely avoids the “I don't know, whatcha wanna do” conversations that cluttered my youth!

The third, and most important aspect of any relationship, but especially one with an established power dynamic, is communication. As my husband puts it: to trust someone is to make yourself vulnerable to them. And to communicate in a trusting fashion is to acknowledge that you trust someone, and to give them the bare truth and trust that they won't use it as a weapon against you. It takes everyone years to develop this skill that is so useful to making a Taken In Hand relationship work.

Charlene

Take the Taken In Hand tour


Have you seen the following articles?
It's all my parents' fault!
Women need to know when NOT to do as they're told!
An alpha female bares her throat only to her mate
Don't go into your cave, get out your preferred implement!
Is spanking necessary in a taken in hand relationship?
Don't be an "if only" person
Men serve and lead, women receive and obey
Take her in hand without lifting a finger
Using the word "love" in writing about relationships
Have you captured her mind?

Comments

Communication isn't necessarily explicit nor direct nor verbal

Charlene wrote:

The third, and most important aspect of any relationship, but especially one with an established power dynamic, is communication. ... to communicate in a trusting fashion is to acknowledge that you trust someone, and to give them the bare truth and trust that they won't use it as a weapon against you. It takes everyone years to develop this skill that is so useful to making a Taken In Hand relationship work.

A while back, my business wasn't doing well. We were having trouble paying some of our personal bills because there wasn't enough money coming in.

At the end of a long week, I was driving home and called my wife. I told her to get dressed-up so I could take her out to dinner. She, predictably, complained that we couldn't afford it I—just as predictably—barked at her to do as I told her, and then hung up on her.

[For the rest of this insightful piece, see Communication doesn't have to be explicit, direct or verbal.—The Editor]

Love it

I love this. I too am the women that is better at getting us through a crowded room. I speak for him in a crowd...because he has told me to. I agree with you that many people's relationship could benefit from this knowledge. If for no other reason then to more clearly define their so called "equal" roles. Conflict most commonly occurs in a relationship when it is not clear who gets to make the final call in a certain area. It is great when a couple can recognize each other weaknesses and fill in the gaps for each other. More importantly, is to know when to let your partner fill in for you.